"I Already Have other Suppliers"

by Chris Muench
(Calgary, AB Canada)

I have a NEW position with an old company trying to build business late in the game. There are at least three other Suppliers in my region that HAVE been calling on everyone for the past 5 to 10 years... these companies are bigger, often faster and cheaper.
So many of the Customers have told me that they are VERY happy with their current supplier and are NOT the least bit interested in switching... sometimes they already have a list of first, second and third choices of Suppliers, and the best I could hope for is to be number four...
Am I just playing for the wrong team, or is there a strategy I can use here?

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Jan 29, 2020
Not an Easy Situation
by: Greg

Hi Chris,

not an easy situation you find yourself in.
As the saying goes "the early bird catches the worm" and your company is the last bird on the scene.

You say these other suppliers have been around for 5 - 10 years and I'm wondering if your prospect has been using the same supplier for all that time or whether they have switched at any time. Because if they have switched it's an indication that they are not averse to making a change,

You may even like to look at it a different way. Maybe this is not an objection at all. The prospect is just stating a fact. They are actually imparting valuable information to you when they tell you this. They opened up the conversation to discuss their current supplier by doing so.
So have the conversation. You will gain valuable information.

You might start out with ...
"That's good to hear -- [competitor] is a great company." (don't bag the opposition)
And maybe even follow up with ...
"That's great! That gives you time to evaluate other resources without any pressure to change"
"Anyway, It's not like I'm asking you to switch providers today."

"I appreciate you have yourself well set up with your current supplier and I was wondering how long have you been with them?"

Now if you get anything less than the total time they have been in need of that product you know they have made a change.

The next question then follows.
"Oh, you have only been with X for 3 years. May I ask who were you with before that?"
When you get that answer follow up with ...
"And why did you make the change?"
"So, [that reason] is important to you?"
And now you are in a conversation.

You may even go further ...
"Tell me, since you received better performance by considering and then making a change 3 years ago, why should you deny yourself the opportunity to repeat the process. Your research back then led to greater {advantages]. You did it once, so the possibility must exist that you can do it again, don't you agree?"

Alternatively, if they have been with the current supplier forever.
Ask, How would you rate your current supplier out of 10?"
They will rarely say 10.
Presuming they rate the company high (8-9) you could ask ...
"Wow, they are doing well, what's the best thing about their [product or service]?
And then,
"What would make them a 10?"

Now you know a lot about what they have and want and you are in a good position to have a discussion about what you offer.

There is no guarantee you'll displace a current supplier [or even the backup supplier] anytime soon but your initial goal is to make sure the buyer knows you exist as an option and what you can offer and especially what makes your offering different (more attratcive to them)

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